Web accessibility lawsuits pose threat to UK e-commerce

For UK e-commerce companies, ignoring website accessibility is an increasingly costly gamble.

Web accessibility lawsuits pose threat to e-commerce

Even if you can merely ship or sell products into the United States, you could be on the hook for expensive legal action under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in many areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and many public and private places that are open to the general public.

Recent data shows that web accessibility lawsuits are skyrocketing, with 414 federal ADA cases filed just in H1 2023—over 100 more than the same period in 2022.

Opportunistic US law firms like Mars Khaimov Law and Stein Saks, which handled 82% of digital accessibility suits last year, are pouring gasoline on the fire.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just big e-commerce giants being targeted.

A disturbing 77% of 2022 cases involved smaller online merchants under £20 million in annual revenue.

The e-commerce sector was hit hardest, comprising 84% of all website accessibility lawsuits.

“Even if your UK business can sell one item digitally into the US market, you could face the full force of an ADA lawsuit,” warns Liam Webster, Co-Founder of Identify Digital, a website design and development agency.

“E-commerce companies need to get serious about their legal exposure.”

Common website violations that trigger lawsuits include lack of keyboard navigation, missing alt-text for images, unclear form inputs, poor colour contrast, uncaptioned video, and ambiguous link text. Addressing these issues is table stakes.

E-commerce companies must implement a comprehensive digital accessibility strategy combining manual testing, coding fixes, and expert consultation. The risks of ignoring web accessibility are severe – but getting it right boosts your brand while delivering a superior user experience.

The writing is on the wall for UK merchants with any US presence. Get your online store ADA-compliant, or a potentially crippling lawsuits may shut your front door.


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